January 23, 2006

Most in L.A. expect attack, but not ready: study

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Most Los Angeles-area residents
expect terrorists will hit America's second-largest city within
the next year, but only about one third have made basic
preparations, a poll released on Monday showed.

The telephone survey of about 1,000 Los Angeles County
residents found that just 37 percent had stockpiled emergency
supplies or developed a plan of action in case of an attack,
according to the California-based Rand Corp.

Rand, a research group that conducted the study with the
UCLA School of Medicine and the Los Angeles County Department
of Public Health, said 60 percent of those surveyed expected
the region to be struck by terrorists within the next year.

"Despite a consensus that Los Angeles is a likely target
for terrorists, few of us have taken steps to prepare for the
consequences of an attack," said David Eisenman, a Rand
researcher and an assistant professor of medicine at UCLA who
led the study.

"We need to better understand what motivates people to plan
ahead and use that knowledge to encourage all groups to be
better prepared for terrorist attacks or other disasters," he

The poll will be published in the January edition of the
American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Los Angeles health authorities say residents should
stockpile emergency supplies not only for possible terrorist
strike but also in case of natural disasters in a region prone
to earthquakes, fires and mudslides.

"After the next big earthquake we will all need food and
water for at least three days until ... assistance arrives,"
Eisenman said. "The threat of a terrorist attack should be
another matter that motivates people in Los Angeles to improve
their planning for a disaster.

Terrorists have not hit Los Angeles since the September 11.
attacks on New York and Washington.

But in 1999 an Algerian man, Ahmed Ressam, was caught on
the U.S.-Canada border with nitroglycerin in the trunk of his
rented car, and he told authorities he planned to blow up Los
Angeles International Airport on the eve of the new millennium.

Ressam was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 22 years in
prison for conspiracy to commit an international terrorist act,
explosives smuggling and other criminal counts.